UAE redeploys troops in #Yemen in bid to assist UN peace efforts

| July 16, 2019

The decision taken by the United Arab Emirates to re-deploy its forces in Yemen has prompted widespread coverage and speculation over recent weeks, writes Graham Paul.

While many journalists and keen observers have been quick to jump to conclusions about the move, one key determiner appears to have been overlooked, that the redeployment was motivated by a desire to support and further the progress of the UN-backed peace negotiations, headed by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

Indeed, throughout the conflict, Emirati officials have been consistent in their calls for a political settlement to end the fighting, a point echoed again recently by a senior official who stressed that it was imperative to move from a ‘military first’ to a ‘peace first’ strategy.

When considering the motivations behind the redeployment, it is important also to consider that although the latest move by the Emirati officials has been reported as an impulsive decision taken in light of current geopolitical concerns; there is considerable evidence to suggest that it has instead come as the result of discussions that have been ongoing over the past twelve months.

While the Stockholm Agreement is by no means perfect, hindered by Houthi unwillingness to implemented what was agreed, it is widely acknowledged by all sides to be the most promising framework for bringing an end to the conflict. If the Houthis are encouraged to participate more earnestly in the process following this recent Emirati move, then it will be seen as a wise tactical choice by posterity.

Crucially, the UAE have announced that they will continue counterterrorism efforts focused on combatting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. Over the past several years, Emirati military operations have severely weakened AQAP, crippling the group’s ability to launch attacks and threaten nations around the world.

UAE-led forces have driven AQAP out from significant tracts of land previously under their control, denying them the safe space with which to plot attacks and removing from them the financial means with which to carry them out.

AQAP previously had access to vast financial resources, in addition to strategically important seaports. In Mukalla, for example, it was reported that the terror group had been collecting approximately $2 million a day in revenue from port taxes, fuel smuggling, and blackmail.

Military operations have reduced AQAP from a formidable terror outfit to a small bunch of fugitives hiding in the Yemeni wilderness, permanently on the run.

The hope is that recent redeployment can help achieve what members of the international community are all collectively seeking: a comprehensive political settlement to end the fighting. The UAE and the Coalition have taken an important step in support of peace in Yemen, the onus is now with the Houthis, and their Iranian backers, to demonstrate a similar commitment.

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Category: A Frontpage, Politics, United Arab Emirates

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